LA, Beverly Hills Ban Cat Declawing

Opponent: People will "drive to a border city" for procedure

The mice aren't going to like this at all.

Two Southern California cities have voted to ban the declawing of cats, joining San Francisco and Santa Monica which recently outlawed the practice.

The Beverly Hills City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday night to approve a declawing ban, except in cases of medical necessity. The Los Angeles City Council also gave final approval to a similar ordinance Tuesday.

"The City Council is proud to take the lead in protecting animals against this barbaric procedure," Mayor Nancy Krasne said. "Beverly Hills has a long-standing reputation as a community which supports animal rights and this legislation furthers our commitment to safeguarding animals."

Councilman John Mirisch said he introduced the proposed ordinance because declawing is "a cruel and unnecessary procedure."

"It is something that is done not for medical reasons, but for the convenience of the pet guardian," Mirisch said.

Dr. Mark Nunez, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association, opposes the ban.

"The decision to declaw a cat should remain between the owner in consultation with his, or her, veterinarian on a case-by-case basis,'' Nunez wrote.

Nunez wrote that cat declawing "is not cruel or inhumane, and as a matter of fact our members primarily perform this procedure as a last resort" to avoid having owners abandon or euthanize their cats when they are unable to keep them from using their claws destructively.

Mirisch said he found "it strange that a group that you would think be in favor of animal welfare would in some way condone such a barbaric procedure."

Pet owners in the city "who wish to have the procedure performed will simply drive to a border city for the declaw procedure if it means keeping their cat in a loving home," Nunez wrote.

Mirisch acknowledged that could happen, but "we have to do what we feel is right for us."

Passage of the proposed ordinance "wouldn't change much" because "I don't think there are really any vets in Beverly Hills who do a lot of declawing,'' but it ``would send an important signal that this is not OK," Mirisch said.

The city of West Hollywood has a declawing ban in place and various city councils around the state are considering proposals to ban declawing before the end of the year. A new state law scheduled to go into effect January 1, bans cities and counties from regulating the practice of veterinary medicine. The Los Angeles City Council gave initial approval on November 6, to an ordinance banning cat declawing and is expected to give it final approval this week. Santa Monica City Council and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have, as well.

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